Campus FAQS: Road to Recovery

Last month we celebrated driver recruitment month, and we've all been hearing a lot about the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program. Driving patients to treatment is an incredible, life-saving opportunity; but what's it really like? The National Campus Leadership Team did Q&A's with real college drivers to get you the low down on time management, qualifications, and how this program works.

Question 1: Why is Road to Recovery important?

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Even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there. Family and friends may be able to help, but over the course of several months, they may not have the time or financial means to provide every ride. That’s why a successful transportation assistance program can be a tremendous, potentially life-saving asset to the community.

Question 2: What will I get out of this?

First and foremost, the fulfillment of knowing that you made treatment possible for a patient who really needs it and have truly become their hero. But if that’s not enough, volunteering with Roads looks fantastic on a resume or grad school application. Hours spent assisting and talking to patients can count as clinical experience for anyone looking to go into healthcare-related fields, or as general community service/volunteer positions for students looking to make an extra impressive impression.

Question 3: I'm a busy college kid; how would I even fit this into my schedule?

Road to Recovery understands that life can be busy; that’s why it’s amazing that this program is so flexible! There is no minimum time commitment, so you can drive patients as frequently as you’d like, at your convenience. Make a quick trip to drop a patient off in between classes, on your day off, or during holiday breaks. Appointments are even separated into two distinct segments, pickup and drop-off, so you can split driving duties with another Road driver for appointments when you’re short on time.

Question 4: How do I know if I am qualified?

Do you have access to a vehicle, have insurance, and possess a valid driver’s license with a good driving record? Then YES, you’re all set to start training!

Question 5: How much training is involved?

It’s super easy. You’ll watch a 15-minute new driver orientation video, and then a 45-minute interactive online training module. You’ll also submit the information necessary for a preliminary background check. The entire process takes about an hour, and can be done in the comfort of your dorm room while eating ramen.

Question 6: How can I get connected with patients?

When you sign up to drive, you’ll build out your online volunteer profile. The profile will ask you to input time and location preferences, so the system will know when you’re free and how far you’re willing to drive. When a patient calls the American Cancer Society needing ride assistance, staff will match the ride request to a local driver’s profile that matches the availability criteria. The driver will receive a ride opportunity notification, which they are free to accept or decline on a case-by-case basis. If accepted, the driver will receive the patient’s contact information, and will reach out to them for an appointment confirmation a few days before the scheduled drive. After the drive is completed, the driver will indicate that the ride was fulfilled on their volunteer profile!

Question 7: How should I interact with patients? I'm nervous!

No need to be nervous! Every patient is different, but the Road to Recovery online orientation and training will walk you through how to handle a variety of situations. Most patients are extremely friendly and appreciative, and excited to meet you! If you’re nervous or uncomfortable, you can always bring a friend to ride along.

Question 8: What should I do while my patient is in their appointment?

Again, this may be different for every patient and what type of treatment they are receiving. An appointment may last anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple hours, and some patients may welcome you to keep them company during treatment. But the vast majority will give you a call or text when they’re ready to be picked up, so you can head home for lunch or study at the nearest Starbucks in the meantime!

Question 9: I think I'm really interested and ready to volunteer! How can I get started?

You can get started here!

Still have more questions? Leave us your comments below, contact the National Campus Leadership Team here, or email Kelly O'Donnel at odonkel@umich.edu.

Road to Recovery

HOW THESE COLLEGE STUDENTS BECAME ROAD TO RECOVERY DRIVERS, AND YOU CAN TOO!

Every day thousands of cancer patients need a ride to treatment, but some may not have a way to get there. The American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program provides transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves. Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so that patients can receive the life-saving treatments they need.

Sogol Ashrafian, UCLA

There are so many programs that are so wonderful. But I chose Road to Recovery because it was the one that I qualified the most for while at UCLA. You can do it on all different days of the week so it fits in your schedule. I really liked that because as a college student your classes are so scattered. I really liked that flexibility. That way I could continue doing work with the American Cancer Society while not having a huge time burden. I could sit at Starbucks and study for the three four hours that it would take for their appointment, all the while knowing that I’m helping someone who really needs that ride. My grandmother is an ovarian cancer survivor, and I always grew up knowing what the American Cancer Society was. I grew up hearing cancer a lot. Essentially I was drawn in because of my family history, but what keeps me going is it is a community that is so united in hope. Talking about how you are feeling, what you are going through. It’s a very, very empowering community. You really can’t find it anywhere else. It’s a very unique opportunity to have a direct contact with the people you wanna help. 

Kelly O'Donnel, University of Michigan

I’ve experienced cancer through the lens of many different relationships in my life. My cousin passed away at the age of 11 from brain cancer, as did my great aunt. Throughout my years in high school, 3 of my friends and classmates were diagnosed. It has become a reality to me that cancer doesn’t discriminate against anyone, across all walks of life, and that everyone deserves the chance to fight. I volunteer with Road to Recovery to enable patients to access treatment and have their fighting chance. It has been one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had, to have patients share their stories with me and to become a part of their recovery story. The strength and appreciation of my patients and their families every time I complete a drive is incredible, and continues to give me hope that by lending a helping hand we can all work to create a world with more survivors and more birthdays.

Ready to sign up? You can now by clicking here!